Blackjack is a ridiculously easy game. But if you have ever been to Vegas or Atlantic City, it can sometimes feel a little bit daunting to play among the serious card sharps, even if you have had a little Dutch courage beforehand.
There are, however, some simple tricks – and a bit of etiquette – you can learn before playing that will increase your chances of winning and help you not draw the ire of other players.
First, though, a disclaimer: We aren’t advocating blackjack as a way to make money. We all have that one friend who believes they have the skills to beat the house, and there are always those stories of people getting banned from casinos for being too good. There is some truth to that, of course. But most of us will play at a slight disadvantage – don’t forget it.
Anyway, consider these tips before you head off to the casino to place a bet on blackjack:
Learn the Rules
Sounds simple, right? But you have to bear in mind that the rules of blackjack will vary from casino to casino, and they can be very different from the card games you played with your grandma as a child.
More importantly, understanding the rules beforehand can help you choose a variant with better odds for the player. For instance, some standard Vegas Strip Rules require the dealer to draw to 16 and stand on all 17s, and they can allow for doubling and splitting. Getting the best payout for blackjack, usually, 3:2, is also advisable, although some casinos now offer just 6:5.
It is something of an urban myth to say that card counting is illegal, unethical or, indeed, difficult. It’s relatively easy, and there isn’t much a casino can do about it. In effect, you are keeping track of the high and low cards coming out of the deck.
Players use a system to keep count in their head, and it can be enough to tip the odds slightly in their favour. It’s easier to do when playing with a single deck (remember to check the rules) and the amount of shuffling should also be taken into consideration. But you really can learn a decent card-counting strategy in a matter of hours.
Asking the question, how to play blackjack online? Is like asking how do I play sports? That is to say; there are many more options and variants available online than at land-based casinos.
However, you can find plenty of opportunities to practice for free, as many online casinos will allow you to play with demo accounts. You can learn a lot quite quickly, especially as live dealer games are now widely available.
Choose Your Table
Nothing sours a professional blackjack player like a bunch of drunken buffoons arriving at a table to interrupt their concentration and play havoc with their strategy.
If you are keen to play seriously, then, by all means, join the high rollers and card sharps at the table. If you and your friends are more interested in free Black Russians than blackjack, pick another table.
If you really want to take your game to the next level, then start studying. We don’t have the column space here to go through every particular blackjack strategy, but there is plenty of literature that can help you succeed.
Henry Tamburin’s Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide is a great place to begin, as the noted PhD and casino maestro will take you through everything from basic strategy to the advanced probability surrounding the game.